When we relaunched our magazine in April, one of the new departments we included was called Brush Strokes. It is meant to showcase the wealth of Canadian art, as well as tell the stories behind the paintings and the painters who created them.
In October, the painting we will be featuring is called To Prince Edward Island, by Maritime artist Alex Colville.
I'm sure you have seen it -- it shows a woman on a ferry to Prince Edward Island, watching something through a pair of binoculars.
The painting prompted me to take a voyage of a sort down memory lane, back to 1997, when I had the honour of being a passenger on the last ferry to ever sail between Cape Tormentine, N.B., and Borden, P.E.I.
It was the M.V. Abegweit, and the occasion was the opening of the Confederation Bridge to PEI.
The only other passengers were the crew, past and present captains of the ship, and their families.
It was a somewhat sad and poignant voyage. The Confederation Bridge represented progress, I suppose, but there was something romantic about the ferry service. I went to college in Charlottetown for a year, and remember racing for the ferry on countless occasions. You aways got a bit of a thrill when you "just" made the last boat... and trust me, your heart sank if you "just" missed it.
Riding the ferry was an adventure - in both the good and bad senses of the word. I remember being aboard the ferry in the middle of winter, and having our ship almost collide with an oncoming ferry. We were both following a narrow seam in the sea ice, and the floes began pushing both ships toward each other.
As we neared, both captains sounded their warning horns. When the ships passed, I swear we were only metres apart. I still recall the fearful looks of the passengers who peered back at us from the other ship's windows as we slipped by each other in the stormy winter night.
I loved the sea breeze that always blew in the middle of the Northumberland Strait. I even loved the cafeteria food, and the slightly oily smell of the holding area where the passengers parked their cars.
I'll never forget my first ride on the the Confederation Bridge either, but largely, because of the feeling of being underwhelmed. The concrete guards along either side are extra high to shield cars from the buffeting winds, but they also prevent you from enjoying the views for most of the journey.
It takes mere minutes now to cross the "Fixed Link."
P.E.I. no longer seems, to me at least, to be a distant, exotic destination. Don't get me wrong. It's still beautiful. But it is also just like the rest of the provinces now. The mystique and mystery of "The Island" is gone. And that's a bit of a shame.
Posted: 15/06/2010 10:21:08 AM
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